It all began on Monday April 4th, 2005. I was riding the 86B bus to Point Breeze. I'm staring listlessly out the front window at the front of the bus. I hear a loud boom and look a little to the left and there is an explosion of feathers. "What the hell was that?!" yells the bus driver. I'm sitting there in confusion, I first though someone threw something at the bus. It came from the right whatever it was, people speculate that perhaps it was a hawk.
At the end of the block the bus pulls over. Now the driver has to write a report, he isn't happy about that he says how he just wanted to go straight home at the end of the day. I get off the bus and run over to where the carcass of this dead bird is lying in the middle of the turning lane. I look it over, it is a beautiful bird. Not something you see everyday. I pick her up by the legs and drag her onto the sidewalk. Looking her over, I get to thinking that its either a turkey or some exotic goose. I don't know my birds real well. I get back on the bus; he's going to be sitting there for a while as the driver talks things over with his bosses about the damage. The bird broke one of the rear view mirrors.
The driver asks if it was a turkey, another passenger says it was. I sit back down then a thought starts creeping into my mind. That's a freakin' turkey! I can eat that. I get off the bus and run back to the bird. I take out a small plastic bag, but a man who was standing there watching me offers to get me a trash bag. Waiting there people are really interested in the bird and ask me about it. It was a pretty crazy situation, I mean a turkey getting hit by a bus? This stuff doesn't happen in real life.
The man returns with the bag and asks me what I'm going to do with it. I reply, "I'm going to eat it." I carried the bag a few blocks down to the bus station in order to transfer to my next bus and continue on my journey. An hour later I pack up everything and ride on home.
I don't know much about eating a bird. I've taken hearts and lungs out of them before, but those are store-bought birds. This is a real dead one with feathers and a head. I happen to have a ‘zine which has a section on eating roadkill, I turn to the page about birds.
The first step is to pluck all the feathers off.
Ok, I figure this shouldn't be that hard and it isn’t. I start a pile inside a plastic bag, figure I could make a pillow at least with them. Now I encounter the first thing which freaks me out: the body is still warm. I stop for a few seconds contemplating this, now I’ll learn what it's like to eat an animal for real. I comfort myself with the thought that at least I didn't kill it. As I pluck out the feathers I encounter the second thing that freaks me out. I find the evidence that this bird got beat to shit by that bus. There is a very large open wound on the breast. I decide to leave the feathers there to cover it up while I build up some courage.
I take a break to put some hot dogs on the grill, I'm starving and I don't think this bird will be done by tonight. I love barbeques, nothing tastes better than charcoal grilled meat. I'm excited because earlier I found a way to light the coals with wax.
Back to plucking feathers. My friend Jon comes over and helps me with removing these feathers. The wing feathers a really beautiful and really hard to remove. Suitable for a head dress something special needs to be done with them. Looking at the bird, I figure it must be female since she's missing the characteristic red beard. This defeathering process takes a long time, we start to get worried that she'll spoil. An attempt is made to bleed it. I tied up the legs to my clothes line, put a bucket underneath, then slit the throat. Not much blood comes out. I've heard somewhere in the milieu that you ought to bleed it like this, the only instructions I have don't say anything about this. But those instructions were designed for pigeon eating. Not sure what to do now, I wrap her up in a trash bag and put her in my fridge. I'll figure it out tomorrow, in the meantime I'll do some research.
When in doubt, throw it out
Words to live by, and so a decisions was reached. I buried the body in the park. I had a short informal ceremony, just between myself and her. I thanked her for the beautiful feathers and regretted that I was not able to fully make use of the life she gave for me. After she was covered by forest compost I sat there for a few minutes contemplating what I've done. I just plucked a dead bird for its feathers and almost ate her. Something deep inside me stirred, I felt alive.